As Speculation Mounts Over Repeal, Here’s How Article 35A Came Into Being in J&K
There is mounting speculation that the dramatic developments in Jammu and Kashmir are connected to possible repeal of Article 35A, which gives exclusive rights to the state's residents in government jobs and land.
Indian soldiers patrol in Srinagar, India, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Tensions have soared along the volatile, highly militarized frontier between India and Pakistan in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, as India has deployed more troops and ordered thousands of visitors out of the region. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
New Delhi: Kashmir is on tenterhooks with authorities stepping up security at vital installations and in sensitive areas, suspending mobile internet services and placing mainstream leaders, including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, under house arrest.
There is mounting speculation that the developments are connected to possible repeal of Article 35A, which gives exclusive rights to the state's residents in government jobs and land. Though Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik had dismissed the speculation, state parties have unanimously resolved to fight any attempt to abrogate the constitutional provisions that guarantee the state its special status or any move to trifurcate the state.
WHAT IS ARTICLE 35A?
The Article is basically an agreement reached between New Delhi and Srinagar in 1952, added to the Constitution through a presidential order of 1954, according to which no one except the permanent residents will be able to settle permanently in the state, acquire immovable property, avail government jobs, scholarships and aid.
WHO ARE PERMANENT RESIDENTS?
According to the original definition, fixed by the then Maharaja of Kashmir, permanent residents or state subjects were are all those who were born or settled within the state before 1911, or after having lawfully acquired immovable property in the state for not less than 10 years prior to that date and their descendants.
Also, emigrants from the state, including those who migrated to Pakistan, are considered state subjects. Their descendants are also considered state subjects for two generations. But this definition was further modified as Article 35A was ratified in the Constitution.
At this point, it may also make sense to understand the context in which Article 35A came into being. Some dates are important here.
1927 and 1932
The then Dogra ruler of the state, Maharaja Hari Singh, issued notifications defining state subjects and their rights. It is said that the Dogras from Jammu approached Singh, expressing fears that an influx of people from Punjab would cause them to lose their jobs and land. So the idea behind these notifications was to contain growing Punjabi influence.
26 October, 1947
Maharaja Hari Singh sought urgent military help on October 24 as Afghani marauders, sent by Pakistan, began their rampage. On October 26, he signed the document of accession. Two notable points here. First, the accession by Union of India was only on three subjects — Defence, Communications and Foreign Affairs. Second, the final terms of accession weren’t finalised yet.
The National Conference founder and the tallest political leader of the Valley, Sheikh Abdullah, began negotiations with the Union of India over the terms of accession.
Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru reached upon some agreements. These came to be known as the Delhi Agreement. One of the points agreed upon by the two parties was that domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir shall be regarded as citizens of India, but the State Legislature was empowered to make laws for conferring special rights and privileges on the state’s subjects.
The provision of the state deciding special rights and privileges on its people was added to the Constitution formally through the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued by the country’s first president, Rajendra Prasad, on May 14, 1954, through powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370.
The state’s constitution (J&K has its own constitution, its own flag and own penal code) was adopted. It defines a permanent resident as one who was born or settled in the state before May 14, 1954, or who has been a resident of the state for 10 years and has “lawfully acquired” immovable property in the state.
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